July 1st & 2nd, 2014
Map to the trailhead (Rubble Creek) parking lot:
Distance: 9km to Lake Garibladi (one-way), 7 km to Panorama Ridge (One-way, from Lake Garibaldi)
Camping: At Lake Garibaldi or Taylor Meadows, the online community’s first choice is at Lake Garibaldi, $10 per person, per night, payable at Rubble Creek Parking lot
Difficulty: I would call it moderate – there is a lot of elevation gain, but the trail isn’t very steep, mostly switchbacks. There is some easy scrambling nearing Panorama Ridge.
I had first done the hike to Lake Garibaldi a few years ago and was blown away by the beauty of the Lake. I had lived in Vancouver for over ten years and was shocked and rather appalled it had taken me so long to get up and out into the back county. The sight of Garibaldi Lake, the brilliant blue colour of a glacier-fed lake, surrounded by snow-capped mountains was something out of an adventure magazine, and here it was in my backyard.
So when my friend Diana was looking for a bit of a vacation – perhaps hiking and camping – I thought immediately of Lake Garibaldi. I knew from my first visit that you could camp there and explore further – Black Tusk & Panorama Ridge seem to be the most popular continuations.
A couple of fellow hikers in the parking lot suggested we hike Panorama Ridge rather than Black Tusk as they did both and preferred Panorama Ridge. So be it.
We started hiking around 1pm and arrived about 5 or so – just in time for dinner! If you have read my blog before you will know food is one of my favourite things – so this was exciting. Diana and I had spent at least half of our hike up talking about what we were going to eat when we got back down to civilization – poutine! Of course. And Fish Tacos, from one of my favourite Squamish restaurants – Mags 99. Diana also ranted and raved about Blue Powerade and a nice cold pint of beer.
But you might be more interested in the trail than our thoughts though, so let me tell you – the trail climbs mildly pretty much non-stop. At km 6 you reach the junction to Taylor Meadows, but there is also another trail over closer to Lake Garibaldi, so if that is your back-up camping choice, don’t worry, carry-on. There are no views to speak of while hiking – lots of trees which are pretty of course. There is a look-out for the Barrier and Rubble Creek, but we did not go look – 100m extra with our packs didn’t seem necessary at the time. Save it for the downhill.
We had been worried about finding a camping spot (it was Canada Day after all), but it seemed most people had already left and we had tons of spots to choose from. In fact we only saw a couple other groups camping. One of those fellow campers was Dan – a firefighter and backyard chicken-farmer who befriended us. We cooked a second dinner together (more lipton sidekicks, this time with pepperoni and cheese mixed in) and played several games of Rummikub. Then followed that up with some chocolate and called it a night.
We had discussed hiking to Panorama Ridge with Dan the next day, but he had to be down early and decided to run the trail! Those firefighters are a crazy breed. :)
We took a leisurely pace and found this trail much more enjoyable than our previous day’s. We entered an Alpine meadow after a few more switchbacks and from here on, the views were incredible and constant. The trail was very mellow for all but the last km or so. At this point you climb, scramble up to the ridge, trudging through snow and over small boulders. Most enjoyable. The trail was pretty easy to follow despite the snow – but we had Dan’s footprints from earlier in the day to follow. Somehow he knew where he was going. There was only one small section where we were a bit unsure, but we just trended up and right toward the ridge and ended up back on what was clearly the trail (orange markers on steel poles. Maybe not steel…. i don’t know my metals).
The views from the top were amazing. Lake Garibaldi on one side and Black Tusk on the other. I felt like we had made the right choice going up to Panoramo Ridge rather than Black Tusk – but honestly, I am sure whichever one you do, you would now be disappointed.
We got back to camp around 2pm and decided we would hike out after a couple hours break, and lunch. Ramen noodles never tasted so good.
The hike down was rough for us. Diana hurt her knee and tried to avoid bending it for the 9km hike. This was a slow process and the longer we were on the trail, the more certain we were, we were never doing this hike again. We got back to the car around 8pm and immediately headed to Mags 99 for our celebratory poutine!
In hindsight, I know it was only in frustration, and hunger, that I swore off this trail. Lake Garibaldi and the surrounding mountains are a place I will visit often and share with as many people as I can. It’s not right to live here and never know the existence of such beauty!
- Further information on the area at Whistler Hiking